There are several theories that have been proposed for explaining the relationship between one's mind and brain. If truth be told, it can be said that it is one of the most talked about philosophical fields.
Mind vs. Brain
Mind and brain are interrelated. For a majority of people, there is no difference between the two. Many scientists and philosophers hold the belief that the brain and the mind are one and are inseparable. These two words are mostly used as alternatives of each other. In general, brain is regarded as a physical object whereas mind is considered as a mental thing (Prabhat, 2011).
The brain is made up of hundreds and thousands of nerve cells and blood vessels. On the other hand, mind being an unseen item is not composed of any cells or vessels. Whilst the brain has a distinct shape of its own, the mind does not possess one. The brain can be seen and touched but it is impossible for one to see and feel mind with one's eyes and hands. Similarly, there are a number of materials that makes up the brain and therefore it is possible to study it. In contrast, it is not easy to research on mind as it is not composed of any physical material. The brain, as an organ, holds a vital position in the human body as it is here that all the functions and activities go on (Prabhat, 2011).
The brain is the centre of the nervous system and it is because of this important body organ that all the movements, thoughts and feelings are coordinated. However, these movements are made possible and thoughts are felt through the mind. It is the mind that is used by human beings to sense, feel and act in response. In simple words, it is the mind through the use of which an individual becomes capable to understand stuff and uses his/her sense of right and wrong. The thought process of a person is also dependent on his/her mind. In the same manner, the brain has a specific position in the head whereas the mind is only considered to be somewhere in the brain. Diseases, tumors and other mental illnesses can affect the brain whereas such complications cannot influence the mind (Prabhat, 2011).
Thus, brain is a physical thing that eyes can see and that can be snapped by a camera or operated in surgery. In contrast, the mind is not a material object. The eyes cannot see it nor can it be taken pictures of or surgically repaired. The brain, for that reason, cannot be considered as but a part of the body. It is not an untold secret that nothing in our body can be labeled as being our mind simply because the body and mind of a person are different units. This is obvious because sometimes when the body is in a state of relaxation and stationary, the mind can be full of activity, scurrying from one point to another (Gyatso, 2012).
Brain can be defined as the managerial and decision-making center of the nervous system and also serve as the site of sentiments, recollection, self-awareness, and thought ("Brain," 2009).
The brain of an adult occupies the skull cavity (cranium) and normally weighs from 1 -- 1.5 kilograms. It is important to mention here that the differences in weight and size of the brain do not associate with the dissimilarities in mental ability. The conscious or voluntary behavior (walking and thinking etc.) are controlled by the brain by means of electrochemical impulses. Moreover, most involuntary behavior including the adjustment of heart beat, blood pressure, fluid equilibrium, position is also monitored by the brain through feedback circuitry. It also affects the involuntary activities of the internal organs. Brain tissue does not have any pain receptors ("Brain," 2009).
Structurally, the brain consists of 3 vital parts known as "the hindbrain (including the cerebellum and the brain stem), the midbrain, and the forebrain (including the diencephalon and the cerebrum)" ("Brain," 2009). All the areas in the brain have a related function. The muscular movements are coordinated by the cerebellum whereas the posture is monitored by the midbrain. The involuntary activities like breathing and vomiting are monitored by the brain stem. Sensory nerve cells in the brain provide it the external and internal information from every part of the body. The data is evaluated by the brain which then sends directives to muscles and glands through the motor nerve cells and cause them to take the appropriate action. On the other hand, the action may be inhibited by the brain such as when one tries not to express amusement or shed tears or it may just pile up the information to be used afterwards ("Brain," 2009).
In recent years, brain research has become much more dynamic especially as a basic component of neuropsychological and psychobiological studies, cognitive science, and other related fields. Neuroscientists are now better capable of localizing "specific functions involving thought, language, perceiving, mental imaging, memory, and other abilities" ("Brain," 2009) as they are largely facilitated by highly developed latest imaging techniques for instance MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and the PET (positron emission tomography) scan ("Brain," 2009).
Mind is extremely important for a person. Human beings use it for thinking, selecting, and for experiencing their surroundings. Mind is the home to one's values, wishes, beliefs, hopes, uncertainties, memories and misgivings. It houses one's feelings of hurt and contentment, love and hate, ecstasy and melancholy. However, mind is not a simple vessel that stores one's feelings and emotions. It is used by humans for thinking, discovering and comprehending. The mind plays a significantly vigorous role in turning the stimulus of one's sensory nerves into image, acoustic, and tangible experiences. This is the reason why a good number of philosophers believe that the mind of an individual determines who he/she really is.
In general, it seems unnecessary to define mind as it is so essential to us. According to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, mind can be defined as "the collective conscious and unconscious processes in a sentient organism that direct and influence mental and physical behaviour" (as qtd. In Knierim). By this definition, it becomes clear that mind is attributed to responsive organisms and is recognized with processes that through which behavior is controlled. The contemporary scientific research categorizes them to brain and nerve processes along with cognitive, motor and sensory ones (Knierim).
Nearly every one thinks of mind as a stockroom of thoughts and reminiscences. In fact, people assume mind as that place where the world is experienced. Some people consider it a movie screen placed in the head and one that plays a nonstop film with them as the main characters. Others suppose it a computer that instructs them what to think and make things easier for them. The question is: How are the mind and the brain related? If the answer is not thought of deeply, the simplest reply would be that it doesn't matter what the mind is, it just happens to be within the brain. As already mentioned, brain is where little electrical signals move around to combine our worldly experiences i.e. our thoughts, ideas, dreams, emotions, feelings and recollections (Carreira, 2011).
The truth is that no one has any idea that how this squishy grey object under our cranium has to do with our experience of mind. Despite the sparkling scientific and technological advancements, scientists and thinkers have not been successful in identifying the relationship between the two. Theories have been put forwarded but every theory seemed to have a drawback and answered questions. Therefore, the finest approach that can be taken to understand the mind is to look at its purposefulness and efficiency for the human beings (Carreira, 2011).
Firstly, it is because of mind that man is allowed to have an interaction with the world. Mind grows correlating with the world and simply exists in association with it. It is a completely wrong assumption that mind exists in the brain. Though some brain functionalities are certainly linked with the mind but assuming that it has a place in mind is totally ridiculous. The theory that seems most sensible is that "mind exists partly with the brain, but also in the body, in our body's interaction with the world, and in the world itself" (Carreira, 2011).
In actual fact, human beings and the world are in a continuing and self organizing relationship because of mind. In his book, Out of Our Heads, Dr. Noe asks us to not consider mind as a movie screen or computer but as a dance. He explains it by saying that if a person goes to a dance party and someone asks him where the dance is, it would be an odd question. He says that the brain does not have the dance even though the brains of the dancers would be involved with the dance. Moreover, the dance would not…